Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sarawak Voters Object Again to SPR Electoral Re-delineation

Once again, 116 voters from P196 Stampin being dissatisfied with the SPR’s work of delineating the electoral boundaries of the state of Sarawak, submitted their objections at the close of the period designated for objections to SPR’s revised recommendations in the ‘2nd display’ on the 30th March 2015.
Amongst the objections of the 116 registered voters were:
1. Although the proposed size of the Parliament of Stampin has decreased to 58,111 electors from 84732 during GE13, it is still 162.42% larger than the state’s average of 35,779 voters (known as the electoral quotient – EQ) This decrease was at the expense of the neighbouring constituency of P195 Bandar Kuching whose total electorate has now grown from the already large 78,394 ( in SPR’s first recommendation) to a whopping 81,992 (ie. 229% bigger than the EQ or 2.3 times the size of the ideal average constituency). This was due almost entirely to the proposed shifting of almost all of the polling districts under the state constituency of N11 Batu Lintang to Bandar Kuching. Hence the value of urban votes in Bandar Kuching as well as Stampin has been eroded by such a proposal. Bandar Kuching is now 4.53 times the size of the smallest parliamentary seat of P.207 Igan! Other large urban constituencies like Lanang, Sibu and Miri and Petra Jaya also did not get ‘redrawn’ in accordance to the criteria for delimitation of boundaries stated in the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution. As for state seats, N54 Pelawan is 4.67 times the size of the smallest state seat of N26. Gedong (new seat). Through these revised proposals, the SPR has further violated the universal democratic principle of ONE MAN ONE VOTE ONE VALUE.
Syor 2 DUN Histogram_by size

2. Instead of alleviating the current levels of malapportionment the SPR’s revised proposals has drastically aggravated it. An analysis of the state and parliamentary constituencies and its voter population as proposed by SPR arranged by size resulted in the following conclusion. One-third (1/3rd) of the voter population of Sarawak will be able to vote in 50% of ADUNs in the next state elections! Likewise, a mere 34% of the voters in Sarawak can vote in or elect 52% of the wakil rakyat and hence determine the outcome of the elections in the state. The bar charts below illustrates these points. According to SPR’s recommendations 35 state seats (out of 82) whose voter population has an EQ deviation of -25% or more; illustrated by the short bars on the left side of the chart. Suffice to say that the rural votes are the kingmakers in the past elections and the ones to come if SPR continues to conduct the delimitation of boundaries according to its own standards and not following the rules set down in our constitution. See attached bar-graphs
Syor 2 PAR Histogram_by size
3. The letter of objection also includes an alternative proposal for delineating Sarawak based on equalisation principles, for consideration by SPR. As it is not possible to implement ‘equalisation” principles in isolated constituencies like Stampin, this alternative proposal is intended to be an alternative proposal for all Parliamentary and State constituencies in the entire State of Sarawak. All seats are kept within a +/-25% band about the Electoral Quotient (EQ) for Parliament (PAR) and for State (DUN) Constituency. (Note: 100% = EQ. Electoral Quotient (EQ) refers to the value arrived at when the total number of voters in a state is divided by the number of constituencies for the state). It also takes into consideration administrative boundaries as well as physical and geographical features. The new parliamentary seat for Stampin would only have 43,688 voters.
Those who wish to view the letter of objection and recommendations can view it online at Rise of Sarawak Efforts (R.O.S.E.) website by clicking the following link
Ultimately, the voters of P196 Stampin and Sarawak want free and fair elections. In this ongoing exercise of delimitation it is incumbent upon SPR to fulfill its role as an impartial election commission of Malaysia by following the principles set forth in the constitution and other internationally-recognised practices and norms.  —- Ann Teo

Judgment flawed, says Anwar in applying to set aside sodomy conviction

Published: 30 April 2015 12:55 PM
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's lawyer N. Surendran and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar at the Court of Appeal today, after the opposition leader applied for a review of his sodomy conviction and five-year jail sentence by the Federal Court. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, April 30, 2015.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's lawyer N. Surendran and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar at the Court of Appeal today, after the opposition leader applied for a review of his sodomy conviction and five-year jail sentence by the Federal Court. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, April 30, 2015.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim ‎who filed a review application today to set aside his sodomy conviction by a Federal Court bench said a  "grave injustice" was caused in sending him to jail.
A motion filed at the Federal Court registry said that a fresh bench should be constituted ‎as the February 10 ruling was flawed.
"The review was filed after dissecting the ‎judgment which found Anwar guilty of the offence," Anwar's lawyer N. Surendran told reporters.
Anwar's daughter and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah said the application was made to exhaust all avenues available to secure his freedom.
Surendran said a sealed copy would be served on the prosecution for the application to be heard as soon as possible.
Anwar, in the motion, also said the verdict ought to be reviewed because the Prime Minister's Office immediately issued a press release on the day of the judgment and due to conduct of ad-hoc deputy public prosecutor Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah after the ruling.
"During a roadshow, Shafee made vicious, vulgar and personal attacks on me and this was endorsed and supported by Umno," he added.
He said Shafee was biased in the conduct of the prosecution's case and did not act in the interest of justice.
Anwar  is serving a five-year jail term on a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at a condominium unit in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.
A five-man Federal Court bench led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria dismissed Anwar’s final appeal against his conviction and maintained the five-year jail term imposed by the Court of Appeal.
The appellate court on March 7 last year reversed the High Court’s finding acquitting Anwar after his defence was called.
A review application is made under Rule 137 of the Federal Court rules on grounds of unfairness, with the applicant asking for the adverse judgment to be set aside and a new bench to rehear the appeal.
Arifin, who delivered the judgment, said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Anwar sodomised Saiful.
The written grounds said that the judges were convinced there was a “ring of truth” in Saiful’s complaint and he had provided a detailed account of the incident.
Further, there was a relationship between Anwar and Saiful and the former had taken advantage of the latter’s weaker position, the judges said.
Anwar, in his supporting affidavit to his application, said the Federal Court judges erred in not re-examining the story told by Saiful against other circumstances and the probabilities of the case.
They said the evidence was not subjected to careful scrutiny as a sodomy charge was easily made but difficult to rebut which was a point that has been accepted by the courts.
In this case, only Anwar and Saiful were witnesses to the alleged crime.
Anwar said it was incumbent on the Federal Court to re-examine Saiful’s evidence, the most important of which they said was Saiful’s claim that the act of sodomy took place in Apartment 1 of the condominium building, and that it took place on a carpet in that apartment.
However, in a search by the police, a carpet was recovered from Apartment 2.
There was no evidence that the carpet was ever moved from Apartment 1 to Apartment 2, a fact acknowledged by the Federal Court in its judgment.
The defence was of the view that Saiful’s story was not probable because the carpet was never in Apartment 1 and hence the alleged act could never have taken place.
However, the Federal Court concluded that the fact relating to the carpet was immaterial.
The defence also said that the Federal Court erred by failing to consider the improbability of Saiful’s evidence regarding the investigating officer, Jude Pereiera, who only collected the lubricant jelly allegedly used to facilitate the sexual act, a day after Saiful the complainant lodged a police report on June 28.
The defence said Saiful’s story was highly improbable as no senior investigating officer would have done that, and Pereira did not confirm Saiful’s version.
It also said that DNA evidence assumes importance only if there is other evidence to show that the offence is committed, but in the present case, Saiful’s testimony was shown to be improbable as he lacked credibility. As such, the DNA evidence did not help, the defence argued.
The defence also questioned whether the samples that were handed by doctors at the Kuala Lumpur hospital to Pereira were the same ones that were received by a forensic expert in the Chemistry Department, alleging that tampering could have occurred in Pereira’s handling of the samples.
They said Pereira’s action of cutting open the bag in which the samples were secured, re-marking them, placing them in a steel cabinet and turning off the room’s air-conditioning, had compromised the samples.
It was accepted by the prosecution’s witnesses that degradation would have occurred unless the samples were preserved in a freezer.
Yet, the court was told by the government’s chemist that the samples were in “pristine” condition.
The defence said that as such, there was serious doubt as to whether the samples taken by the medical witnesses were the same ones that were received and examined by the forensic witness.
Anwar said the bench failed to consider the testimony of the first doctor Dr Mohd Osman Abdul Hamid who examined Saiful and whose testimony differed from three other (doctors) who examined the complainant later.
He said the prosecution did not provide evidence that Dr Othman had a motive to cook up the story against Saiful.
Therefore, Anwar said, Dr Othman's evidence ought to have been considered, instead of labelling him as an untruthful witness. – April 30, 2015.
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Press freedom dips amid gov't crackdown

10:22AM Apr 30, 2015
Malaysia's press freedom ranking fell a place to the 142nd position in 2014 amid police crackdowns on criticism of the government, which has intensified this year.

According to US-based Freedom House's Press Freedom Report 2014, Malaysia is in the same league as Pakistan and Turkey, which also share the same rank.

Freedom House also found that global press freedom declined in 2014 to its lowest point in more than 10 years.

Malaysia's score declined from 64 to 65 and was categorised as "not free".

The scoring is based on a scale of 100, with a lower number denoting greater freedom and a higher number meaning less freedom.

Ahead of Malaysia are Ecuador and Guinea which share rank 140, while Mexico is also ahead at 139th place.

The report noted: "Conditions for the media deteriorated sharply in 2014, as journalists around the world faced mounting restrictions on the free flow of news and information, including grave threats to their own lives".

"Governments employed tactics, including arrests and censorship, to silence criticism," it said.

String of arrests

For Malaysia, the country saw a string of arrests under the Sedition Act in 2014, with at least 42 sedition cases, according to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

Among those arrested include Malaysiakinijournalist Susan Loone, Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh and political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque or Zunar, while BFM radio presenters were investigated for criticism of Kelantan's hudud plans.

The series of arrests came amid Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's pledge to repeal the Sedition Act, a promise on which he later reneged.

Last year also saw Najib suing Malaysiakini for readers' comments about the Terengganu menteri besar crisis.

Malaysia's ranking is likely to continue its decline this year after Najib sued two more news organisations this year, MediaRakyatand Harakahdaily, over reports on 1Malaysia Development Bhd and his family.

According to ICJ, the number of sedition cases for the first quarter of this year stood at 36, already on track to exceed the number of total cases for the whole of last year.
~ Malaysiakini

What is Dr M really fighting for?

8:39AM Apr 30, 2015
By Dennis Ignatius

COMMENT The redoubtable Dr Mahathir Mohamad is once again on the warpath.

In recent months, he has fired salvo after salvo of withering criticism against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak accusing Najib of a whole array of sins - mismanaging the economy, squandering billions, living lavishly, mishandling the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder investigation, not being a strong leader, burdening the people with Goods and Services Tax, kowtowing to the United States on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement etc.

He has even levelled against Najib what is perhaps the ultimate insult in his lexicon - being worse than former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi! (right)

His attacks on Najib have, of course, thrilled the hearts of the legions of Malaysians who are fed up with Najib’s leadership.

Indeed, many now look to Dr Mahathir as the would-be saviour of the nation. Even the equally redoubtable Lim Kit Siang has offered to work with him to save the nation.

If anybody can succeed against Najib, it is, of course, Dr Mahathir. He alone has the stature, the authority, the political smarts and, of course, the impunity, to go head to head with the PM.

There is none more implacable, more skilful, more determined than he. He also has the experience, having brought down a sitting PM before. When the doctor gets his political scalpel out, somebody is most likely to get scalped.

Freedom, justice and equality, not

But what is Dr Mahathir fighting for and what does he really stand for?

Is he fighting for the restoration of our freedom and democracy? Is he fighting to repeal unjust laws like the Sedition Act, which is being used to harass, intimidate and incarcerate government critics?

No, he actually doesn’t think much of democracy and considers freedom vastly overrated.

He favours censorship of the media, supports the use of the Sedition Act and has called for the reintroduction of the Internal Security Act.

His governance philosophy tends to favour almost untrammelled powers for the executive - especially if they stick to his script.

Is he fighting for better economic management of the nation, an end to corruption and crony capitalism? No sign of that either.

Malaysia continues to slide into an abyss of unimaginable  corruption with billions upon billions being siphoned off and squirreled abroad. We have careened from one scandal to another with no end in sight.

A recent survey found we are the most corrupt nation in the region. Another survey ranked Malaysia number five in the world in terms of the illicit outflow of capital - more than RM171 billion in 2012 alone.

None of these things have earned the ire of the doctor. His criticism of Najib over the 1MDB scandal, as deserving as it certainly is, does not appear to spring from any intrinsic distaste of corruption or crony capitalism; it is merely another convenient nail to drive into the PM’s coffin.

After all, the culture of crony capitalism and corruption became etched in the national fabric during his administration; 1Malaysia Development Bhd is simply the chickens coming home to roost.

Is he fighting for the rejuvenation of our national institutions - the justice system, the civil service, law enforcement - which are all in crisis today? Again, unfortunately, he is no reformer.

Criticisms smack of opportunism

Even his criticism of the way the Altantuya murder was handled smacks of opportunism rather than a deep-seated concern about a grave injustice.

If a cover-up has indeed been perpetrated, as many now believe, then surely the entire justice system deserves to be condemned and completely overhauled. But again, this is not what he is calling for.

Is he fighting to enhance national unity and improve racial and religious harmony which is a pressing national concern? Unfortunately, the answer is again no.

There was a time when he thrilled Malaysians with his vision of “Bangsa Malaysia” and held out the hope that, finally, we might be able to exorcise the twin demons of racial and religious division that have so impeded our progress, but that is just a bad joke now.

Instead, he continues to make outrageous remarks against minorities and finds common cause with extremists. It was not by chance that he turned up at a recent rally with two of the nation’s most polarising figures.

If not any of the above, what then is he after?

Judging from his own statements, the inescapable conclusion is that he is not fighting to bring down a corrupt and abusive system; he merely wants a more competent, and perhaps malleable, manager to ensure the long-term survivability of a regime that is in crisis, that doesn’t deserve to survive, that has wreaked so much havoc upon the nation, that the majority of Malaysians have already rejected in the last general election.

And, of course, as he himself mentioned on more than one occasion, he is fighting to postpone the day of reckoning for all the corruption and abuse of power that has flourished for so many decades.

If Najib deserves to be condemned for his abuse of power and mismanagement, then so, too, do all the others.

An unholy war

Dr Mahathir’s campaign against Najib is thus an unholy war that has more to do with self-interest than with national interest. It is a struggle to preserve and consolidate a politically and morally bankrupt regime.

It is an unprincipled quest with unprincipled partners for unprincipled ends.

There is no doubt that Najib must go - not in the interest of preserving the status quo but that real change can come.  As it now stands, if Dr Mahathir succeeds, we lose; if he fails we still lose.

Of course, there is no doubt that Dr Mahathir is an outstanding leader. His ability to inspire people, his unlimited ambition for Malaysia, his talent for wielding the often cumbersome
machinery of the state in pursuit of national objectives were always impressive.

If only he had marshalled all that for the good of our nation, what a legacy he would have left behind, what a great nation we would have become.

During the course of my long career as a diplomat, I had many occasions to work with Dr Mahathir and I have to say that I still treasure those times.

He was always gentle, kind, courteous, an honour  to work with. Some of my proudest moments came when I stood beside him on the international stage and saw the respect our nation commanded.

I dare say that most of us would have followed him to hell if necessary, and we did.

Too bad he insists on keeping us there.

DENNIS IGNATIUS was Malaysia’s ambassador to Chile and Argentina and High Commissioner to Canada.
~ Malaysiakini

‘Steep non-Malay decline in civil service unhealthy’

8:18AM Apr 30, 2015
By Terence Netto

The government should correct acute racial disparities in intake into the civil service because the lopsidedness hampers the performance of the civil service, especially during certain phases of the year.

“We are an industrialising society,” commented M Kulasegaran, the DAP national vice-chair and MP for Ipoh Barat, “and as such we have to a civil service that functions at optimum throughout the year.”

The federal legislator said with nearly 80 percent of the civil service composed of Malays, there was the challenge during two months each year when the “rigours of fulfillment of a religious obligation issues in reduced productivity and that is followed by a prolonged period of celebration that also impacts output negatively”.

Kulasegaran (left) observed that these realities are the “unalterable aspects of national life” but they can be prevented from impacting efficacy if a better racial balance to the intake is achieved.
“With nearly eighty percent of the civil service composed of Malays, it is difficult for the service to be in a year-round condition of optimum performance,” remarked Kulasegaran.

He said sharp declines in the Chinese and Indian compositions of the civil service have created an imbalance whose impact during periods of obligatory religious fulfillment and follow-through festivity was preventable simply from shoring up the non-Malay intake.

“A modern industrial economy requires a civil service that displays year-round responsiveness to keep the pump priming,” argued the DAP leader, who has been prominent in advocacy of victims of child custody battles between estranged parents, one of whom has unilaterally converted an offspring to Islam.

Kulasegaran said the government’s claim that non-Malays were uninterested in enlisting in the civil service was belied by the facts adduced in Parliament from a question he had asked on the intake at the last sitting in March.

He said there was evidence to show that non-Malays, especially Indians, were interested to enlist but there appeared be no corresponding interest on the part of the government to engage them.

~ Malaysiakini

Oil royalty decision lies with fed govt — Chief Minister

Posted on April 30, 2015, Thursday

KUCHING: The decision on the increase of oil royalty from five to 20 per cent lies with the federal government, disclosed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem in his winding-up speech at the State Legislature Assembly yesterday.

However, he was pleased that the state government had made progress on the five key areas of negotiations with Petronas.

He said despite the drop in oil prices that had affected its revenue, Petronas was willing to accede to the state’s requests.

Adenan revealed that Petronas had agreed to supply to Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) 250 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of natural gas for power generation for 20 years at RM15 per million British Thermal Unit (mmBtu) with 1.5 per cent escalation per annum based on the principle of firm supply contract, which is very much lower than the international market price.

In addition, he said Petronas was working out a mechanism to supply 200 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of natural gas for the non-power sector.

“This is important to the state especially in realising our SCORE development agenda as well as our industrialisation strategy. The supply of natural gas to the non-power sector will enable Sarawak to develop Bintulu as our petrochemical hub by attracting more petrochemical industries to invest in Bintulu and at the same time attracting more industries to invest in the Samalaju Industrial Park.”

He further revealed that Petronas had also increased the actual spending value for jobs awarded to Sarawak companies from RM2.1 billion in 2013 to RM2.4 billion last year.

“This is an increase of RM0.3 billion from the baseline value of RM2.1 billion worth of contracts to Sarawak companies. In the first quarter of 2015, Petronas has already spent RM350 million for the same purpose. Petronas will continue to improve and increase the value of contracts awarded to Sarawak companies.

“I would also like to inform that the number of licensed/registered companies with Petronas had increased from 314 in 2013 to 369 in 2014. To further improve the Sarawakian companies’ participation in the oil and gas industry, Petronas has rolled out strategies with Petronas Supply Chain Management Units and Petronas Product Sharing Contracts in February 2015,” he said.

Adenan further pointed out that a working committee comprising both Petronas and state representatives had been formed to monitor and track the progress of the oil and gas industry in the state.

“In the area of human resource, education and technical trainings, Pertonas in 2015 will spend about RM180 million on capital expenditure and educational sponsors and capacity building.

“We have witnessed earlier on March 7, 2015, during the SCAT Fair, Petronas had awarded scholarship to 150 students from MRSM Kuching, Betong and Mukah to encourage them to excel in their academic performance and another 150 VISTA scholarships to enable rural youth to undergo technical skill development to enhance their employability.”

For Corporate Social Responsibility, he said Petronas had allocated RM50 million over five years (2015-2019) on community outreach programmes, disaster relief support, infrastructure contribution and environmental conservation.

In addition, Adenan revealed that Petronas was also in active final discussion with the state government on the details of Shareholders Agreements on the 10 per cent equity in the MLNG Plant Train 9.

“We are also working with Petronas for more equity in MLNG 2,” he added

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State beefing up border security — Jabu

Posted on April 30, 2015, Thursday

THE recent crippling of a 4-wheel drive vehicle smuggling syndicate is a result of continuous joint effort by Sabah and Sarawak Police to curb cross border crimes.

“I am glad to inform this august house that the government has approved the establishment of an Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security Complex at Ba’Kelalan. The complex is expected to be completed and operational by 2018,” 
said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang.

Reporting on his watching brief on the security of the state, Jabu said that the state government will improve all the police facilities and equipment at the border, including building new posts for General Operations Force (GOF) or army.

“PDRM will tighten the security at the borders, especially in areas with illegal entry points, by carrying out joint operations and roadblocks to curb smuggling activity and illegal activity at the border.”

He added that Sarawak Energy Berhad have placed 16 auxiliary police officers led by a sergeant at Batang Ai Hydro Dam, and will study on how to improve the security needs of the area.

“Police will also continue to eradicate illegal gambling in the Batu Kawa area. Between January and April 24 this year, police made 665 raids in Batu Kawah and Kota Sentosa, resulting in 123 arrests, 590 computer units seized and RM11,592 in cash confiscated.”

PDRM will use Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Act 297) to combat gangsterism and loan sharks in the state.

“With this law, police can prevent these groups from committing crime or carrying out their illegal activities. So far, four people have been placed under supervision order.”

In other matters, Jabu reported that security at the Kuching Waterfront and its vicinity will be enhanced by PDRM by the presence of policemen on duty around the clock.

Regarding the Second Hand Dealers Act 1946, police have received 113 applications, and 32 have been approved. Enforcement came into effect on April 1 this year, after giving traders a one year grace period to register.

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